Five Unsung Heroes of Chiefs’ 2024 Super Bowl Victory: Rushie Rice Among the Underrated X Factors

Paradise, Nev. — Patrick Mahomes won the Super Bowl MVP, Travis Kelce led his team in receiving, and the Kansas City Chiefs hoisted the Lombardi Trophy once again after edging the San Francisco 49ers 25-22 in overtime in Sunday’s championship game.

But this Chiefs title might be the most balanced team effort of any Super Bowl victory in the Mahomes-Andy Reid era. Defense and special teams dominated the first half. The second half belonged to Mahomes and nearly flawless output from an otherwise overlooked receiving corps.

Who else deserves props for helping KC capture its third trophy in five years? Here are five unsung heroes:

Sidelined for nearly two months with a groin injury, McKinnon was activated at the last minute, and while he managed just two touches against San Francisco, he made them count. His second—a first-down catch on third-and-2 near midfield—helped set up the Chiefs’ game-tying field goal in the waning minutes of regulation. Reed clearly trusted him as a safety valve on third downs, during which he allowed physical starter Isiah Pacheco (72 total yards) to catch his breath in the backfield.

Calce grabbed the headlines and McCall Hardman scored a walk-off touchdown, but Rice also came through precisely when it mattered most. His 13-yard first-down catch against Charvarius Ward with 4:10 left in overtime swung the momentum in Kansas City’s favor, allowing the Chiefs to milk the clock before their final score. He was also responsible for another positive gain on the game-winning drive, cementing himself as a reliable up-and-coming playmaker for Mahomes.

The second-year cover man was well-regarded coming into the matchup, but he excelled against a lethal receiving corps starring DeBo Samuel, Brandon Ayuck and Jauan Jennings, who for a while appeared to be a strong Super Bowl MVP candidate. Early on, he broke up a potential deep-ball TD for Samuels in the end zone, and he overcame a late defensive holding penalty to keep San Francisco out of the end zone in overtime, finishing with two other pass deflections plus two QB hits. .

While the 49ers made Super Bowl LVIII a close contest, they never got over the top of the Chiefs defense, and Reid had a lot to do with that. A tone-setter whose physicality almost incited some extracurricular fights, he finished second on KC’s defense with nine tackles, while also disrupting the pocket with a half-sack and a hit on Brock Purdy. His steady hand as the last line of defense is one of the most underrated reasons for the Chiefs’ back-to-back championships.

Special teams dominated a good portion of the game, but let’s be honest: kickers can always use more love. And Butker was literally perfect at his job against the 49ers, finishing 5-for-5 on kicks — including 4-for-4 on field goals — easily connecting on a 57-yard long Super Bowl LVIII. No one doubted the Chiefs side when he took the field, and for good reason: After a year of enduring a career-low FG percentage, Butker was on the money for all of 2023, and in fact never missed a kick this postseason. .

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